What a Year It’s Been…


Thanks to all of you who have journeyed with me 
through the books I’ve published this year – here’s to many more to come!
So, I still consider myself a newbie author – 2014 being my debut publishing year and all. But I’ve been writing and
learning tricks for much longer than that. I even teach high schoolers now and then, although we tend to focus on nonfiction. But this past year, I’ve been interviewed formally and casually on the same topic numerous time: 

How does someone START that thing called story?

Here are a few of my favorite tricks. I hope you enjoy, and may the creative force be with you!

1. Start in the middle.

When I teach, a common problem with any writing my students do is not knowing what words should go first. This is
the same in fiction – we’re told to make the first scene dynamite – the best
you’ve got. This can be paralyzing! You see that blank page and it scares the words
right out of your brain.
So I tell students to start wherever your idea leads you.
Write the parts you know NEED to be there, then you can go back, rearrange if
necessary, and fill in the rest. I do this all the time, just by blocking out
my chapters in Word, then filling in the scenes as I have inspiration. I also
put scene ideas on index cards, then use a wall and some sticky stuff to
rearrange the timeline as much as needed!

2. Start an idea file.

In high school, I had an accordion folder with magazine
pages, random notes, poems, etc. Now I’ve graduated to Pinterest, which is so
cool for inspiration! I have boards for each book I’ve written, and also those
I’m just brainstorming. Here’s my board for Balance BrokenHere’s my board for a book I haven’t even started yet, that for now, I’m calling soulShifter.
You can also use Polyvore to create tools like mood boards
and scene layouts. These are great for people like me, who think in images.
Having these concrete images helps me translate my ideas into words.

3. Start thinking like a cinematographer.

Not because your book could someday be a movie, but because
it’s already a movie – in your own head! I spend time in each scene blocking
out the characters in my mind. I imagine where they might stand, the movements
they might make, the way the lighting would look on their hair. This can go
into your writing or not, but ultimately your scenes will have that punch of
appeal that readers want. Readers like the drama – so think like a movie-maker!
Analyze some of your favorite movies and try to determine why a particular
scene is so spectacular, then try using that technique with words.

4. Start calling yourself an author, or writer.

This was a problem for me for a long time. I never gave
myself the mental permission to take myself seriously, and here I am in my
thirties, doing something I could have done in my twenties. Every now and then,
I still have to remind myself to introduce myself as a teacher AND author, not
only teacher.
Confidence can be one of the major blocks to creativity. Too
much, and you don’t leave yourself room to grow and improve. But too little,
and you might never carve out that time necessary to chase your dream right up
into the stars. Tell yourself that you can do this, and you are allowed to do

Now go do the thing!

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